Before I started to blog, I read a couple of online guides, mainly to help me decide which software to use. What I hadn't really thought about, which they both mentioned, is that blogging can be seen as online publishing. I'd always thought of a blog as an online journal but now I've had the idea planted, I see blogging in an extra dimension.
This week my post included a letter from a publishing company, the name of which I've very conveniently forgotten so I can't repeat it here and compound my shame. Suffice to say it's one of those companies who place adverts in local papers asking for contributors to poetry (I think it's always poetry) books. Once, a very long time ago, I answered such an advert and fell for the hype which explained that if I had a poem included in the forthcoming anthology, I would eventually start to receive loyalty payments. Well, of course, you're ahead of me. Now, I'm being asked to celebrate the fact that they are 30 years old. The best I can say about it is that it reminded me that my poem was published 20 years ago and perhaps I can be forgiven for foolishness that I may have grown out of since.
Lots of people I know write, in particular poetry, because they just want to. Most of them are never published. My first (late) husband gave his occupation as a writer and teacher, having started his working life as a full-time teacher but progressed to more writing and less teaching as time went on. He had once received £10 for a poem published in a small literary magazine but had since then spent many years writing poems, a book on the stresses of teaching and a novel, none of which were ever published. During our marriage I almost stopped writing anything altogether because, at the time, I was worried that if I, a visual artist, met with more public success in writing than he, 'the writer' had, it could be damaging to his self-esteem and our relationship. Since then I've come to understand that his self-esteem was a whole lot more robust than that and that there was a degree of dishonesty in my attitude. Once he became seriously ill, I began to write poems again and after his death made a collection of all the poetry we had both written about his illness. I tried (though perhaps not very hard) to get it published but eventually just printed several copies and sent them to the various health departments with which we had had dealings. Most were very pleased to receive a 'patient's-eye-view' of things.
During the last six months of my first, late husband's life (is there a better way of describing him than this rather clumsy phrase, I wonder?) he planned his own funeral. We had had no idea that this was possible so after the event I decided that more people might like to know what can be done and I wrote an article about it. Again, I sent off to several places and was thrilled to receive an acceptance letter from The New Statesman and Society (as it was called then.) It needed editing by a third, they said, and would I like to do it or leave it to them. I did it myself, the article was published and I received a proper payment. I can't remember exactly, now, but I think it was in the region of £100. I'm probably as proud of that as I am of any sales of my pottery or textiles work.
So now, I've been reminded of the concept of publishing and this has had two main effects. I'm beginning to think I may post some of my poems from time to time. I've a number from the last thirty years that are halfway reasonable but being only halfway will certainly never reach a wider audience any other way than this. Secondly, I'm thinking about what I'm writing rather more than I expected to do at first. It's all too easy to get into a different style of writing and instant posting through usenet as a whole. Do I want to be a tad more careful than usual? Do I, perhaps, want to take more care, save things to be returned to and carefully edited, rather than posted straight away, as I would if I was writing for print? Not this time, I think. This comes to you more or less straight as it fell from my touch-typing fingers. It's something to think about, though.